- Intussusception is the infolding (telescoping) of one segment of the intestine within another.
- Intussusception usually results in a blockage of the intestine.
- Intussusception occurs primarily in infants (boys more often than girls) but can also occur in adults and older children.
- The primary symptoms of intussusception include abdominal pain and vomiting.
- Early diagnosis and treatment of intussusception are essential to save the intestine and the patient.
What is intussusception?
Intussusception is the telescoping of one segment of intestine into another adjacent distal ("downstream") segment of the intestine. (The term "intussusception" is pronounced "in-tuh-suh-sep-shun" with the accent on the "in." It comes from the Latin "intus", within + "suscipere", to receive = to receive within). Common mispellings of intussusception include: intususception, intussuseption, intersusception.
Intussusception is the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children between 3 months and five years of age. It is extremely rare in children under 3 months of age or in older children and adults.
What happens during intussusception?
During intussusception, a segment of bowel (intussusceptum) telescopes into a more distal segment (intussuscipiens), and drags the associated mesentery, vessels, and nerves with it. This results in compression of the veins, followed by swelling of the region leading to obstruction and a subsequent decrease in blood flow to the affected part of the intestine. Most cases affect the ileocolic region of the intestine (where the small intestine meets the large intestine).
The compression of blood vessels in the involved intestine reduces the supply of blood to the affected intestine. If the blood supply is greatly reduced, the involved intestine may swell, causing an obstruction, or even die (become gangrenous) and bleed. It also may rupture and lead to abdominal infection and shock.